Dijital Fix Priced Out of Mini Mall — Fixin’ to Move

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“La Sardina 35mm camera; an entirely new, fresh analogue wide-angle camera from Lomography that channels the design of the humble sardine can.”

The “rent pandemic,” as we know it, has caught up with the premier design electronics shop Dijital Fix which has made its home in the Bedford Mini-Mall for six years. They are closing their doors on Sunday, Sept 29 due to the inability to come to an equitable agreement with the landlord regarding their rent.

“They are hilariously nearly tripling the rent,” said David Auerbach, the owner, who says in an email to WG that they are looking for a new home in the ‘burg. They have some good leads, and they look forward to reopening soon with “a bright new store, with a revitalized concept.”

In the meantime, they will be having a MOVING CLEARANCE SALE, starting today, lasting through Sunday, 7pm.

“We’re giving huge discounts on all of our remaining stock and we urge everyone interested to come by and take a look.  We’ll be discounting up to 80% for display models and other items.

“Since we opened in 2006 we’ve enjoyed growing with the neighborhood. I’ll keep you updated when we find a space!”

Any leads for spaces, please be in touch with David at bk@dijitalfix.com as soon as possible.

Pocket Utopia “Gallerartist” and I Team Up for “Session One”

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“Gallerartist” Austin Thomas, and her shadow image, at the first Pocket Utopia Gallery. Gallery image photo by Catherine Bindman

By Sarah Schmerler

What’s the role of the art gallery in the 21st century? Why are some artists successful, while others spin their wheels, forever seeking career satisfaction? For Austin Thomas, artist and owner-director of Pocket Utopia Gallery, the art world is a kind of ecosystem, and we are all viable elements within it, sustaining it and make it whole.

In this intimate conversation with Thomas that took place at Pocket Utopia—the gallery she started in Bushwick and then moved to the Lower East Side—you’ll glean some of the answers. Full disclosure: Thomas and I are recent collaborators; on August 4, we conducted a mind-blowing, four-hour lab session with nine artists called “Session One” of “Pocket U-niverse-ity.” To put it simply, we felt we could forge a radical anti-grad-school form of collaborative learning whereby an art gallery serves as the hardware, the art market serves as the software, and the artists provide the content.

So, what really ended up happening?

That night, Thomas sat the nine participants down and, after oiling them up with some beer, casually informed them: “I’m giving you a show here at Pocket Utopia. One work each, from all of you. You are the group that will inaugurate my fall season. I’m calling it ‘Session One’ and it opens September 8.”

I went on to lecture on phenomenology and teach a short writing seminar. I also talked about radical art historian Aby Warburg, and what sets one group show apart from another.

After dinner, (yes, Thomas gave the artists dinner, as well as a show) we were still stunned, so we did shots of Johnny Walker Black. No one expected a gallerist to put their money where their mouth is. No one.

Traditional Hat Makers & Master Shoemakers—Head and Feet Above the Rest

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A shoemaker’s tools, and bespoke shoe in progress. Photo by Joyce A. George

By Kelley Shields

Most people will work to provide a living for themselves while only a small number will provide themselves the living they want to do through the work they choose.

Without question a smaller populace within the populous, those who follow their heart’s call are nonetheless a critically important segment of any community. It requires a particular quality of energy—a blend of vision, courage, tenacity, ingenuity and near boundless energy—to produce something people want, that the producer of said something additionally wants to provide. For the past 30 years this quality of energy, the magic of creativity to be succinct, has literally transformed the Williamsburg/Greenpoint area. This article profiles a few local creatives making beautiful hats and shoes that many of us want to own.

Some hats provide a finial effect, literally decorating the tip of our tops while others function more like shelter from the elements, housing our psychological centers. Others still are hybrids offering both exemplary style and housing which, following the metaphors of finial-hats and shelter-hats through would make the hybrid types, penthouses for the head!

This whimsical observation is brought to mind because two incredibly artful hatters in the area are about to join forces: Ryan Wilde, milliner-extraordinaire, proprietor/partner of the recently shuttered IDA (a collaborative venue launched in 2011 that showcased the assortments of Wilde and jeweler Georgia Varidakis) is joining Sean O’Toole’s venture, Pork Pie Hatters at 441 Metropolitan near Marcy—all of which is meaningful because their pairing is bound to provide a bounty of offerings across the finial-shelter-penthouse array.

Pork Pie Hatters, established in 2011 in the East Village, opened its Williamsburg location in 2012. Progeny of the long-established J.J. Hat Center in Manhattan, the story of how Sean O’Toole came to open two of his own shops is almost a cliché, but not actually because his is an interesting and satisfying story which clichés ultimately are not due to their utter predictability.

Taste WG — Epic Eating and Drinking to Build Community

All Photos by NC Debord

Ice cold wine from Brooklyn Oenology. Photos by NC Debord

“Eat my b#@#s,” urged the black t-shirts with bright white lettering worn by the beefy guys working the Meat Ball Shop table. Okay, we’re not in Kansas anymore…. The 4th annual Taste Williamsburg-Greenpoint Food Fest took place last Sunday at the East River State Park. Over 40 local businesses—restaurants, wine shops, artisanal food producers—showed their flags and cooking chops.

Oysters on the half shell from Maison Premiere.

There were lobster rolls from Extra Fancy, roasted oysters from Hotel Delmano, fresh oysters on the half shell from Maison Premiere, chilled corn chowder from Parish Hall, sliders from Pies n’Thighs, tender brisket from Delaney BBQ, Indonesian Rendang green curry from Selamat Pagi, Rendang red curry from Mamak (food truck), reddish BBQ ribs from Fatty ‘Cue, Nordic potato salad with a light blond aioli foam from Aska, skate salad from Juliette, a pretty lime curd with berries from Gwynnett St., chili-lime chicken wings from Station, artisanal pizza from Adelina’s, delicate green salad from The Elm, tacos from Mesa Coyoacan, sausages from Rosamunde. Van Leeuwen was there with a delightful plum sorbet, and Phin & Phebes gave us samplings of Vietnamese coffee, peanut-y pretzels, and ginger ice cream. All were super lush and creamy. There was plenty to drink too; natural wines from the Natural Wine Company, specialty wines from Brooklyn Oenology, whiskey from Jameson’s, awesome Ginger Ale from Bruce Cost and strong coffee from Oslo.

Lime Curd with Berries from Gwynett St.

It was great to see so many wonderful restaurants all in one place; Fat Goose, Teddy’s Bar and Grill, Café Colette, Two Door Tavern, Anella, Sindicato De Cocineros, Bakeri, Sweetwater, Nita Nita, Donna, Le Gamin, Brooklyn Star, Dumont, and Zona Rosa, just to name a few, all there to feed the hungry crowd. It was truly an epic tasting event. Bummer, it was impossible to sample every dish. I’ll just have to visit the restaurants on my own.

All proceeds benefit the Northside Town Hall Community and Cultural Center.

Assemblyman Lentol addresses the Taste WG crowd.

Shepherd’s Pie from Spike Hill.

Tacos from Mesa Coyoacan.

Greenpoint Film Festival 2013 Wrap Up

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After a successful opening night on Thursday, September 19, the third annual Greenpoint Film Festival wrapped on Sunday. Just as she has done in the previous two years, Festival Director Rosa Valado was able to tap into the creativity of our neighborhood as well as bring together a diverse group of films and filmmakers from around the world. In addition to screening a number of amazing films, the Greenpoint Film Festival played host to a number of spirited discussions and panels.

The festival had the prerequisite narrative and documentary categories in addition to highlighting micro-budget/DIY films, experimental films, and offered a music video screening and discussion. The closing day, Sunday, featured an extensive environmental film and discussion series in addition to animated and performance films.

In short, the Greenpoint Film Festival delivered a broad selection of films and discussions that provided something for all the varying interests in our nabe.

In full disclosure, I should point out that I was a judge for the long and short form narrative films. On the one hand, I was honored to have been asked and considered it a privilege to participate. On the other hand, it’s somewhat of a curse to sit in judgment of anyone’s creative work. I’m not the type of person who derives pleasure from crapping all over someone else’s creativity endeavors?

When you judge or critique films, you are doing so based on your own knowledge, tastes and, in all fairness, mood at that moment. The process is almost exclusively subjective and anyone who argues to the contrary is not being honest with themselves. Taking the time and energy to realize and complete a creative vision and submit it to festivals puts that individual miles away from the arm chair filmmaker, so who the hell am I to sit in judgment?

Nonetheless, I was a judge and promised myself I would be as objective as humanly possible. With this in mind, in July, I jumped head first into the submissions.

The four long form submissions were all strong. They had well defined characters, solid stories and each filmmaker knew how to weave a cinematic yarn. This is to say these films would in no way benefit from a car chase, car crash sequence or a ridiculously loud thumping soundtrack. I believe this is a good thing.

My least favorite of the long form submissions was still a decent film, if a little too immature and self involved. But completing a feature length movie that is structurally adept and technically proficient is certainly worth noting.

But as I pointed out in my Flux Fest review a couple of months ago, the nature of these things is to single out a couple that rise above the rest.

GFF Official Narrative Feature selection was Jason Jeffrey’s Your Side of the Bed. About a middle aged journalist coping with the untimely death of his wife. Thoughtful and real, the film’s pacing gives a certain sense of realism that lends the film its gravitas.

The GFF Best Narrative Feature was Maryanne Zehil’s La Vallee des Larmes (The Valley of Tears). Zehil’s film tackles the never endingly complex and drama filled issues in the Middle East by way of Montreal. The film provides amazing performances and a story that focuses on the atrocity of genocide and its survivor’s decade’s long quest for justice and vengeance.

The narrative short form category offered a more diverse and competitive landscape, from insufferable to superb. To be fair, only one short landed in the insufferable category – all the other shorts I screened were very well done. One, in particular, was only knocked out of contention because the acting was so bad it derailed the clever story.

The GFF Best Narrative Short was Peter Sasowsky’s Mojave. Loosely based on the life of Dutch artist Cecile Bouchier, Mojave is an engaging and very smart short that smolders with Oona Mekas’ sublime performance. Ronnie Clark’s everyman approach and Sons of Anarchy aesthetic lend an extra layer of charm and conflict to the story. While the whole film is amazing it was the very last shot that resonated with me and you’ll just have to seek it out if you want to understand what I mean.

Dylan Allen’s Epilogue was clever but not overly clever and not ironically clever. What happens to our everyday hero once the mission is complete? Allen makes an effort to include the viewers in on the joke and with Epilogue he totally nails it. In fact, just typing this and thinking about the film makes me smile.

Greg Slagle’s The Windmere Guest was probably the most technically complex of the narrative shorts. Weaving stock footage in, to tell a classic mob double cross story, The Windmere Guest captures the genre well and Slagle’s attention to detail pays off.

The last of the Official Selection Narrative Shorts is Oona Mekas’ The Sleepy Man. The film is based on Brooklyn native Jonathan Letham’s short story “The Sleepy People,” a metaphorically nebulous short story with an empowered female lead, which can make for a challenging cinematic translation, especially as a first film. But Oona Mekas, as writer, director and actor pulls it off with supreme coolness. As an actor, Miss Mekas, along with Academy Award nominated actor John Hawkes as the sleepy man, captures the alienation and loneliness of a dystopian existence. As a writer/director she shows off a smooth storytelling capability. As a debut short, it would be hard to find one better than The Sleepy Man.

Hindsight emphasizes the challenge of judging the short form narratives because on a different day, it could have been any one of these that could have been my favorite. On the day I screened them it was Peter Sasowsky’s Mojave.

The hallmark of any good film festival is its ability to bring together filmmakers and creatives to talk about their craft and their passions. Let’s face it, anyone can slap some films together and call it a film festival but the line up of films, panels, and talent that this year’s Greenpoint Film Festival offered, showcased its growing relevance to the film community.

If the Brooklyn Film Festival is our area’s Sundance Film Festival, then the Greenpoint Film Festival is our Telluride Film Festival.

 

After-school fiber art class on Mondays @ LemonSky

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After-School Fiber Art Classes

One-hour fiber art classes on Mondays (age 6 and up) from 4:15-5:15pm. Your child will learn the basics of knitting and crochet in addition to fun and meaningful fiber art projects that entail techniques like weaving, sewing, felting, and fabric printing.

Starting: September 25th @ 4:15-5:15pm
Price: $80/month
Location: 330 Wythe Avenue 2-C , Williamsburg/Brooklyn

This class can be joined at any time.

LemonSky LLC Fiber Art & Craft Classes for Children

www.LemonSkyNY.com / Info@lemonskyny.com / 718 599 9749

Gypsy Band, Cupcakes and Flora for Brooklyn Greenway Initiative’s PARK(ing) Day

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A past Park(ing) Day, a “meditation garden,” in Williamsburg. (John Del Signore/Gothamist)

Parking spaces around the globe to be temporarily reclaimed for people

Today, in Cobble Hill, the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI), along with cities, artists, activists and citizens around the globe will temporarily transform metered parking spaces into public parks and other social spaces, as part of an annual event called “PARK(ing) Day.”

BGI welcomes the public to join them for an afternoon of music, food and fun, all while supporting a good cause.

If anyone is doing this in Williamsburg, please let us know! (info@thewgnews.com) or send us photos. 

BGI, a nonprofit designing and implementing a 14-mile long recreational and transportation facility along the Brooklyn waterfront is partaking in the event for the first time this year and from 12:00-6:00pm this Friday, a parking space outside their office at 153 Columbia Street, Brooklyn will be transformed into a public space featuring live music from Gypsy band The Bailsmen (performing 4:00-5:30pm), complimentary cupcakes, and bike parking, all in a lush garden environment courtesy of Chelsea Garden Center.

Originally invented in 2005 by Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, PARK(ing) Day challenges people to rethink the way streets are used and reinforces the need for broad-based changes to urban infrastructure. “In urban centers around the world, inexpensive curbside parking results in increased traffic, wasted fuel and more pollution,” says Rebar’s Matthew Passmore. “The strategies that generated these conditions are not sustainable, nor do they promote a healthy, vibrant urban human habitat. PARK(ing) Day is about re-imagining the possibilities of the metropolitan landscape.”

“We enthusiastically embrace the goals of PARK(ing) DAY and are excited to transform the parking spot in front of our offices into a lively urban oasis where none has existed before! ” said BGI Co-Founder Brian McCormick. “Change after all begins with awareness and passersby cannot possibly miss our installation” McCormick adds.